I heard a song with "I - bVI - bIII - bVII" and It's one of my favorite progression. So I want to know about that progression.
There isn't a name for this specific progression, but it might make sense to call it a circle of fifths turnaround. Let's assume you're in C; this would make the progression:
| C Maj | A♭Maj | E♭Maj | B♭Maj |
Here are some things that make the progression interesting:
- the change from major tonality (in measure 1) minor tonality (in measures 2-4)
- measures 2 - 4 follow the circle of fifths
- upon repeating the progression, going from B♭Maj to CMaj is a nice parallel movement
The term 'circle of fifths turnaround' might make sense given that turnarounds are typically short, repeatable progressions that lead back to the I chord. And the use of the circle of fifths is a key feature of the progression.
Separately, the reason ♭VII to I sounds good is that ♭VII has the 2nd and 4th scale degrees of the I chord, which draw the ear toward the 1 and 3 of the I chord.
It’s likely you mean the I is minor, thus i-, bVI, bIII, bVII. This is a very popular progression (turnaround) in disguise.
It is the same as vi, IV, I, V when you make the bIII the I.
For example, the progression for the verses of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love?” is F#-, D, A, E.
The key signature has three sharps which could make the song either in F# minor (as indicated by the first chord in the progression) or A Major.
If we agree that the song is in F#- then the progression is i-, bVI, bIII, bVII.
However, if we look at it from the relative major, which is A Major, then the progression is vi, IV, I, V.
Progression = F#-, D, A, E
In F# minor = i-, bVI, bIII, bVII
In A Major = vi, IV, I, V
Same song, same progression, just a different perspective.
We usually look at progressions from the perspective of the relative Major key, hence vi, IV, I, V is popular and the more common way to view. However, it’s equally valid to understand it from its minor perspective, hence i-, bVI, bIII, bVII.